Don't be a couch potato Catholic!

Acts 2:1-11; John 20:19-23

Each of us probably knows someone who fits the description of a “couch potato”.  If you are like me, you have probably played the role of couch potato yourself at one time or another.  We all know the qualities of a coach potato: a little lazy, passive, no motivation, no desire to get out and accomplish some task.  The scary thing is, sometimes these characteristics can describe the way that we practice our faith.

There is a great risk that we become “coach potato Catholics”.  In a recent homily, Pope Francis warned of the dangers of becoming couch potato Catholic.  That was the term he used.  He explained that a couch potato Catholic is someone who is cozy in their faith, well-settled in their comfort zone.  Maybe they come to Mass each Sunday.  They might be well-mannered and follow all the rules.  But there is something missing: they lack a sense of mission.  The fact that they are Christian does not seem to influence other areas of their lives.  Those who know them may not even realize they are Christian.  Couch potato Catholics lack excitement, zeal, for their faith.  They are not drawing anyone closer to Jesus.  They are not drawing anyone closer to the Church.  They do not act as though Jesus has given them a mission to spread the good news.  There is a great risk that we, myself included, can become couch-potato Catholics.

The Holy Spirit is the antidote for Catholic Couch-potato-it is.  The Holy Spirit transforms Jesus’ followers from couch potatoes to zealous, mission-driven individuals.    Let us consider for a moment the most dramatic case-study: the apostles, the first followers of Jesus.  They underwent a remarkable change.  When Jesus was arrested and executed, they went into hiding.  They were afraid for their lives.  Some even denied they knew Jesus.  A short time later, the apostles re-appeared on the scene preaching the good news of Jesus Christ in the face of persecution and even death.  What caused this dramatic change?  Certainly they met the risen Christ.  This brought them joy and consolation.  It was not enough to send them on mission.  In the first reading we find the answer.  The apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It was the Holy Spirit that transformed the apostles into missionaries – individuals who draw other people closer to Jesus and the Church.  The Holy Spirit transforms Jesus’ followers from couch potatoes into zealous, mission-driven individuals.

Each one of us has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into zealous disciples.  At our baptism and later at our confirmation, each one of us received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is often described as fire.  That is why we wear red today.  Fire gives heat, energy, life, and dynamism.  Fire also purifies and transforms.  Sometimes the fire of the Holy Spirit can remain dormant in our life.  It’s like when you leave a camp-fire unattended for a long time.  When you come back the fire looks like it is out, but is you scrap away the ashes you will find some coals buried deep in the pile.  If you blow on the coals, they will burst into flame again.  We all must stir up the gift of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We do this by intentionally taking some time each day to pray, to ask the Holy Spirit to be more active in our lives.  It doesn’t have to be long.  If we were to take only five minutes each day regularly, our lives will change.  Each one of us has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into zealous disciples.

Just like the apostles, we too are to bring people closer to Jesus and the Church.  We are all, each one of us, called to be evangelists.  Now, I am not suggesting that we start going door to door, trying to pass out brochures.  I know how uncomfortable that would make us all.  There are simple ways that we can spread the good news that Jesus Christ died to save us with those we encounter each day.  For example, imagine that a co-worker shares with you that they are anxious because a member of their family is sick.  In addition to sympathizing with them, you could share that in moments like these you personally find it helpful to remember that there is a God who loves and cares for us.  You could then offer to pray for the sick person.  Or perhaps a friend is down on themselves because they feel that they are a failure and that nobody cares for them.  In this case you could remind your friend that they are precious to God, so much so that Jesus died personally for them, because He loves them.  Or maybe you meet someone who is new in town, or someone who is away from their family, who is looking for a community to call home.  Why not invite them to Mass or a Church event? Just like the apostles, we too are given a mission to bring people closer to Jesus and the Church.

Being a couch potato can be nice for a while.  It is relaxing and comfortable.  But ultimately it is boring.  Likewise, being a couch potato catholic, going through life without a sense of mission or zeal is ultimately a boring way to live our faith.  There are so many people here in Surrey who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  They are longing to hear that God loves them, that they have a Saviour, and that they are made for eternity.  If you do not tell them who will?  Today, let us accept this mission anew.  During this Eucharist, let us pray intentionally to the Holy Spirit that He transform us into zealous, mission-driven Catholics.